Despite reports of rising conflict between the Soviet Union and the Baltic states, many seem hopeful of a drawn-out, yet peaceful, finale.
Ed Blaser, director of Brigham Young University's Performance Scheduling office, recently returned from the Soviet Union and the Baltic states and said the people he met believe good things come to those who wait."A number of people felt that if they are patient things can be resolved," said Blaser, who had traveled to the Soviet Union to arrange a tour for BYU's Young Ambassadors.
He said his host did not believe that there would be a civil war, because both the national and state governments are "too smart for that."
Because 40 percent of the citizens of Latvia are Russians, there is not always a consensus of feeling.
"The young people were more anxious," Blaser said. But not everyone is reacting radically to the presence of Soviet troops or the future possibility of independence from the Soviet Union of republics.
Ed Morrell, a BYU political science professor specializing in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, said the history of the conflict helps in understanding what is happening now.
One cause of the crisis was glasnost, or openness, Morrell said.
"The general opening of politics allowed the publicizing of ethnic differences," he said, something that was previously forbidden implicitly, if not explicitly.
Also, with the rise of political perestroika (restructuring), came the rise of grass-roots interest groups.
"The strongest of these were ethnic groups," Morrell said. So immediately the two causes were combined and the movement became stronger.
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev didn't crack down on these states at first because they were supporters of his perestroika and glasnost policies.
"Finally he had to do something because he didn't want the dissolution of the Soviet Union," he said.
Blaser said Baltic citizens are having a difficult time supporting Gorbachev now.
"They believe that Gorbachev has made a lot of friends around the world, but there is less food on their tables and less merchandise in the shops than there was five years ago," Blaser said.
They are remembering how much better life was before the World War II, and they want a change, he said.
Morrell said he is always an optimist.
"I hope for the best but won't be surprised at the worst," he said.
It is not possible that the Baltic states will be independent tomorrow, but within five years they probably will be out peaceably, he said. At any rate, the Soviet Union will not be able to hold onto them forever.
"And they are willing to give up a lot to prove they can do it," he said.